Central States Archaeological Societies
Central States Archaeological Societies

AN IOWA AXE

Harold E. Carr
Greenfield, Iowa


About the time I think all the axes have been found, someone comes up with a find.

The axe shown here was found July of 1996 by Everett Decker in Madison County, Iowa. This is a fine classic example of an Iowa type axe, squared sides, slant groove, even the gray fine-grained granite that most of the Midwestern axes are made of; however, this axe has two unusual features that I thought worthy of notice.

Number 1: This axe has the finest deep groove of any axe I've found or seen, a full 1/2" deep. I once made an axe, only once I might add, using the same hammerstones the Indians used. It was 8" long and about the same size and thickness. I can say for a fact that the single, most timeconsuming part is that of pecking out and polishing the groove. This experiment helped me appreciate the time and skill required by the Indian in making these large, fine grooved axes.

Number 2: The bit on this axe was broken, not
by farm equipment, but by the Indian while in use.

It had evidently struck a hard, direct blow, as the bit impacted on both faces of the blade for an inch or more - just like the impact fracture on a flint point. This type of break is even more unusual on an axe, for the bit usually chips or snaps off with a clean break.

A very small part of the bit edge was still intact, indicating the axe was 7 1/2 inches when broken and probably close to original length. Even with a one-half-inch groove, the axe is 1 1/2" thick at the groove, a well-made, heavy-duty axe.

The Indians needed to cut some rather large timbers to length in the building of their house structures. I think axes of this size could have been used for this purpose.

I often wonder who was the most disappointed, the Indian using this stone axe when broken, perhaps 2000 years ago, or the friend who found it in 1996. Regardless, I'm happy to add this fine axe to my collection.

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